World in Conflict: North Korea, Lebanon, UAE

North Korea pressuring border resident to hand in their cell-phones

The North Korean state is reportedly trying to pressure smugglers in the Sino-North Korean border region to hand in foreign-made mobile phones. 

It’s believed these phones are used to call China and South Korea. The reason for this move is because the Ministry of State Security in North Korea has made it clear they want to cease illegal border activity by the end of the year. 

According to Daily NK, the people using the foreign-made mobile phones are secretly communicating with people in China and South Korea to sell state secrets. Or to help transfer money from defectors to relatives inside the country. 

It is thought that security officials have already been approaching smugglers demanding they hand over any foreign-made mobiles immediately. The State says that if they do now, then all their past offences will be forgiven. However, if they don’t and get caught out later then, they should be “prepared to die”. 

Happy Anniversary to Lebanon!

It was exactly one year ago that around 1 million people in Lebanon (20% of the population) flooded the streets in protest. They were burning tyres, creating road block and chanting anti-government slogans. But why are people protesting?

Reasons for protest:

  • Because the government had planned taxes on gasoline, tobacco, and VoIP calls on applications such as WhatsApp.
  • However, it also expanded into a nation wide protest against sectarian rule, unemployment and a stagnant economy. 
  • Oh, and not forgetting corruption in the public sector. 

When the protests first kicked off some demonstrators camped out in tents and occupied car parks. Aline, an engineer and political organiser was one of those protestors organising demonstration in Beirut. 

She was intrumental in building a wooden tent to shelter protestors during the winter months and created a space for activists to come together and stratagise. The tents were a roaring success and very quickly became the epicentre of the revolution. 

However, when the COVID pandemic hit the army then came in and cleared them away as the Government delcared a medical emergency. 

Speaking to VICE, Aline said: “It was the biggest disappointment for me,” Aline says. “It was my second home, my actual home. These people were my family.”

Over the past few days the army have been patrolling ahead of future processions. They are armed with assault rifle’s and are prepared to intervene. In recent months, military forces have become increasingly agressive towards demonstrators, often attacking them with either tear gas, rubber bullets or even live amunition. 

UAE Cabinet Approves agreement to establish relations with Israel

Last month we saw the historic meeting in Washington in which the United Arab Emirates and Israel made a momentous decision to establish diplomatic relations with one another. Well today the UAE cabinet has agreed to go through with the idea. 

Both the UAE and fellow Gulf State, Bahrain, became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign agreements to establish formal ties with Israel, forged largely through shared fears of Iran.

The agreement is called the Abraham Accord and the Cabinet provided a statement saying: “an avenue of peace and stability to support the ambitions of the region’s people, and enhance efforts for prosperity and advancement, especially as it paves the way for deepening economic, culture and knowledge ties.”

Israel ratified the deal last week ahead of a UAE Government delegation visiting Israel on Tuesday.

What can we learn from the Darren Grimes story?

I’ve never really been a big fan of Darren Grimes. As a Remainer and I guess you could say (London Liberal Metropolitan Elite Bubble Dweller), Darren’s vision of an independent Britain outside the European trading block seemed like nothing more than an unrealistic fantasy. But like many Remainers, I came to accept the verdict and focused on other pressing issues. 

Although you may think that Darren’s Brexit content and commentary is something I would’ve found annoying for the past few years, actually it’s quite the opposite. He may have been Vote Leave’s Grassroots poster boy, but I’ve found his digital content to be more inspiring and influential than anything else. 

I may not agree with Grimes’ views, however, I’m not so much influenced by his rhetoric but more so by his conduct, creativity and innovation as a political blogger and activist. In this game we call politics if you don’t have the much-needed passion for the cause you are campaigning on, then you’ll be found out very quickly. Likewise, if you don’t put any time and effort into your projects and they appear to be a tad slapdash, then again, you’ll be found out. 

Grimes doesn’t have that issue. Time and time again he has proved his worth as a political operator. His passion for the Brexit cause has been evident not only to his peers and allies but also his enemies and opposition. On top of which, what we’ve seen is a respectful individual who has always adhered to the polite conventions and norms of political discourse. He never seeks to dismantle his opponent by using aggressive, hateful rhetoric, instead he uses the Grimes bank of Brexity knowledge to dissect the arguments and then proceeds to confidently push forward his suggestions. 

Those are attributes I aspire to work towards. Not because I have a lust for the Brexiteer activist lifestyle. It’s so I can develop my own skills and become an all-rounded, highly skilled Politico. 

Like many of you, I did indeed watch Grimes’ interview with David Starkey in which Starkey made those cringeworthy and abhorrent remarks. It showed a complete lack of respect to the Black community and the tone it was delivered in appeared to be nothing more than underlyingly racist. Mr Starkey, having realised the error of his ways, apologised and faced up to the frustrated braying mob of political Twitter. 

Grimes should have questioned Starkey about his remarks and he should’ve had an editor at ReasonedUK look over the interview before it was published. But he didn’t. And as the sole Director and Editor of Reasoned, he had to face up to his responsibilities by dealing with the backlash. 

It can’t have been easy but it will have been an important learning curve for him as a content creator and interviewer. 

So to receive all this backlash and critique is fair enough, however for the Metropolitan Police to be investigating the interview on the grounds of ‘Darren Grimes’ being potential in breach of the Public Order Act of 1986 by supposedly “stirring up hate”, is absolutely preposterous. 

As Grimes rightly pointed out to GMB viewers last week: “The Public Order Act is intended to preserve public order, not to regulate speech and debate.” 

The sheer fact this was reported to the authorities as some kind of racial hate speech issue is laughable. 

Yes, it was a careless interview but Grimes had nothing to do with the reply that came out of Starkey’s mouth…

It’s a great shame that Grimes is having to endure a Police investigation over an error of judgement on his behalf. I feel as though the whole matter could easily be resolved through the means of a slap on the wrist. 

Grimes is not a racist. Neither is he responsible for stirring up hatred towards a particular race. He just made a human mistake. 

The lesson we can learn from this saga is although Darren Grimes is an established name within the world of political commentary, he’s still in his 20’s. And your 20’s is supposed to be about grounding your feet in a career and making mistakes. 

If it had been Piers Morgan or Jeremy Vine who’d failed to pressure Starkey on his comments then yes I’d be very disappointed in their interviewing skills, but with Darren, you have to understand that he is still getting to grips with the medium and in terms of journalism, he still has a great deal to learn.